Authors: Jack Kerouac
Tags: #Fiction, #Literary
VISIONS OF GERARD
Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922, the youngest of three children in a Franco-Canadian family. He attended local Catholic and public schools and won a football scholarship to Columbia University in New York City, where he met Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. He quit school in his sophomore year and joined the Merchant Marine, beginning the restless wanderings that were to continue for the greater part of his life. His first novel,
The Town and the City
, appeared in 1950, but it was
On the Road
, first published in 1957 and memorializing his adventures with Neal Cassady, that epitomized to the world what became known as “the Beat generation” and made Kerouac one of the most controversial and best-known writers of his time. Publication of his many other books followed, among them
The Dharma Bums, The Subterraneans, and Big Sur
. Kerouac considered them all to be part of “one enormous comedy,” which he called The Duluoz Legend. “In my old age,” he wrote, “I intend to collect all my work and reinsert my pantheon of uniform names, leave the long shelf full of books, there, and die happy.” He died in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1969, at the age of forty-seven.
VISIONS OF GERARD
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First published in the United States of America by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc., 1963 Published in Penguin Books 1991
10 9 8
Copyright Â© Jack Kerouac, 1958, 1959, 1963
Copyright Â© renewed Stella and Jan Kerouac, 1986, 1987
All rights reserved
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA
Kerouac, Jack, 1922â1969.
Vision of Gerard/Jack Kerouac.
Originally published in 1958.
Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Gerard Duluoz was born in 1917 a sickly little kid with a rheumatic heart and many other complications that made him ill for the most part of his life which ended in July 1926, when he was 9, and the nuns of St. Louis de France Parochial School were at his bedside to take down his dying words because they'd heard his astonishing revelations of heaven delivered in catechism class on no more encourage ment than that it was his turn to speakâSaintly Gerard, his pure and tranquil face, the mournful look of him, the piteousness of his little soft shroud of hair falling down his brow and swept aside by the hand over blue serious eyesâI would deliver no more obloquies and curse at my damned earth, but obsecrations only, could I resolve in me to keep his fixed-in-memory face free of running off from meâFor the first four years of my life, while he lived, I was not Ti Jean Duluoz, I was Gerard, the world was his face, the flower of his face, the pale stooped disposition, the heartbreakingness and the holiness and his teachings of tenderness to me, and my mother constantly reminding me to pay attention to his goodness and adviceâSummers he'd lain a-afternoons, on back, in yard, hand to eyes, gazing at the white clouds passing on by, those perfect Tao phantoms that materialize and then travel and then go, dematerialized, in one vast planet emptiness, like souls of people, like substantial fleshy people themselves, like your quite substantial redbrick smokestacks of the Lowell Mills along the river on sad red sun Sunday afternoons when big scowling Emil Pop Duluoz our father is in his shirtsleeves reading the funnies in the corner by the potted plant of time and homeâPatting his sickly little Gerard on the head, “
Mon pauvre ti Loup
, me poor lil Wolf, you were born to suffer” (little dreaming how soon it would be his sufferings'd end, how soon the rain, incense and teary glooms of the funeral which would be held across the way in St.Louis de France's cellar-like basement church on Boisvert and West Sixth).
For me the first four years of my life are permeant and gray with the memory of a kindly serious face bending over me and being me and blessing meâThe world a hatch of Duluoz Saintliness, and him the big chicken, Gerard, who warned me to be kind to little animals and took me by the hand on forgotten little walks.
Allo zig lain
â” he'd say to our cat, in a little high crazycatvoice and the cat'd look plain and blank back at him as though the cat language was the true one but also they understood the words to portend kindness and their eyes followed him as he moved around our gray house and suddenly they'd bless him unexpectedly by jumping on his lap at dusk, in the quiet hour when water's burbling on the stove the starchy Irish potatoes and hushsilence fills ears in houses announcing Avalokitesvara's blessed everlasting presence grinning in the swarming shadows behind the stuffed chairs and tasseled lamps, a Womb of Exuberant Fertility the world and the sad things in it laughable, Gerard the least and last to dis-acknowledge it I'd bet if he were here to bless my pencil as I undertake and draw breath to tell his pain-tale for the world that needs his soft and loving like.
“Heaven is all white” (
le ciel yÃ© tout blanc
, in the little child patois we spoke our native French in), “the angels are like lambs, and all the children and their parents are together forever,” he'd tell me, and I: “
Are they happy?”
“They couldnt be anything else but happyâ”
“What's the color of God?â”
Blanc d'or rouge noir pi toute
âWhite of gold red black and everythingâ” is the translation.
Lil Kitty comes up and gricks wet nose and teethies against Gerard's outheld forefinger, “Whattayawant,
“âWould I could remember the huddling and the love of these forlorn two brothers in a past so distant from my sick aim now I couldnt gain its healing virtues if I had the bridge, having lost all my molecules of then without their taste of enlightenment.
He bundles me in the coat and hat, he'll show me how to play in the yardâMeanwhile smoke sorrows from red dusk roofs in winter New England and our shadows in the brown frozen grass are like remembrances of what must have happened a million aeons of aeons ago in the Same and blazing Nirvana-Samsara Blown-Out-Turned-On light.
I do believe I remember the gray morning (musta been a Saturday) when Gerard showed up at the cottage on Burnaby Street (when I was 3) with the little boy whose name I cant forget and the consistency of it like lumps of gray mud, PlourdesâBalls of sorrow are his nameâSniveling at the nose which he had no handkerchief to blow, dirty, in a little holey sweater, Gerard himself in his long black parochial stockings and the highbutton shoes, they're standing in the yard by the little wooden stoop in back of to the side where the meadows of sadness are faced (with their stand of gleary pines beyond and in which on rainy days I could see the beginning of the Indianface Fog)âGerard wants Mama Ange to give the little boy Plourdes some bread and butter and bananas, “
, he's hungry”âFrom a poor and ignorant family, likely, and they'd never feed him except at supper, or an occasional (perhaps) lard sandwich, Gerard was acute enough to realize the child was hungry and was crying on account of hunger and he knew the munificence of his own mother's home and took him there unto and asked for food for himâWhich my mother gave the boy, who now, years later, I see, or just saw, on a recent visit to Lowell, six feet tall and 200 pounds and a lot of bread and butter and bananas and child largesse has gone into the bulkying of his decaying mountain of fleshâA glimmer memory maybe in his truckdriver brain of the tiny sickling who mourned for him and fed him and blessed him in the long agoâPlourdesâA Canadian name containing in it for me all the despair, raw gricky hopelessness, cold and chapped sorrow of LowellâLike the abandoned howl of a dog and no one to open the doorâFor Plourdes his fate, for me:âGerard to open it to the Love of God, whereby, now, 30 years later, my heart, healed, is stillwarm, savedâWithout Gerard what would have happened to Ti Jean?
I'm on the porch muffled in bundlings watching the little Christly dramaâMy mother goes in the kitchen and butters bread and peels bananas, with that heartbreaking, slow, fumbly motion of mothers of the world, like old Indian. Mothers who've pounded tortillas and boiled mush across clanks of millenniums and wind-howlâMy heart is where it belongs.
My father comes home from work and hears the story and says “How he's got a heart, that child!” shaking his head and biting his lips by the stove.
It was only many years later when I met and understood Savas Savakis that I recalled the definite and immortal
which had been imparted me by my holy brotherâAnd even later with the discovery (or dullmouthed amazed hang-middled mindburnt waking re discovery) of Buddhism, AwakenedhoodâAmazed recollection that from the very beginning I, whoever “I” or whatever “I” was, was destined, destined indeed, to meet, learn, understand Gerard and Savas and the Blessed Lord Buddha (and my Sweet Christ too through all his Paulian tangles and bloody crosses of heathen violence)âTo awaken to pure faith in the bright one truth: All is Well, practice Kindness, Heaven is Nigh.
Gerard's sad eyes first foretold itâIn the dream already ended, which all this isâHis face so tranquil and compassionate, various pictures of him we had, one in particular in front of me now, that was taken in his (probably) fifth year, on the porch of the Lupine Road house the which, when I recently visited it, revealed to me (to my infant's old gaze) the ancient form of Earth-Beginnings in the form of a fluted porch-ceiling-light-globe that I had studied and studied with infant eyes long afternoons of drowse sun or warm March, in my cribâWhen, seeing it just recently, age 33, its contours rejoined me deeply with the long forgotten contours of Gerard's face and peculiar soft hair, and little Raskolnik parochial shirt, and high black stockingsâNay, and unto the very brown slats of the house next door, and even more nay-worse-so unto the very stone “castle” on top of the hill a field away which I had completely forgotten in my rational memory and saw with awe in maturity what already I'd divined unconsciously in teenage reveries of “Doctor Sax and the Castle of the Great World Snake” all to be explained ahead in the
âThe said porch is the scene of the holy little snapshot here kept, Gerard sitting on the rail with my sister Nin (then 3), holding her hand, smirky-ing in the sun the two of them as some aunt or paternity godfather snaps the shot, the long forgotten snow of human hopes paling into browner stains in old photoismsâI see there in the eyes of Gerard the very diamond kindness and patient humility of the Brotherhood Ideal propounded from afar down the eternal corridors of Buddhahood and Compassionate Sanctity, in Nirmana (appearance) Kaya (form)âMy own brother, a spot of sainthood in the endless globular Universes and ChillicosmâHis heart under the little shirt as big as the sacred heart of thorns and blood depicted in all the humble homes of French-Canadian Lowell.